SRI NAGAR: Five heavily-armed militants and two armymen were killed and two soldiers injured in a fierce 18-hour gunbattle close to the Line of Control (LoC) in the border district of Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday.
Defence spokesperson Colonel N N Joshi said the army and police had launched a joint combing and search operation in Zonreshi, Maseri village in Chowkibal area close to the LoC last evening based on information about the presence of militants there.
He said they had inputs that militants were hiding in a house in the village. “After plugging off all the entry and exit routes, security men zeroed-in on a house, where the militants were hiding.
“As the house was being encircled, militants hiding inside fired from automatic weapons and lobbed grenades towards the security personnel. The fire was returned by the security men,” Joshi said. Additional reinforcements were rushed to the area, which was cordoned off, he said.
“In the fierce gunfight, which continued till this afternoon, five heavily armed militants and two soldiers were killed,” Joshi said. Two armymen also sustained injuries and were evacuated to the military hospital in Srinagar. Joshi said the combing operation was still on, adding that five AK-47 rifles and cache of ammunition had been recovered.
A police official said the identity of the slain militants was being ascertained.
The deceased armymen were identified as 34-year-old Naik Shinde Shankar Chandrabhan of Nasik, Maharashtra and Gunner Sahdev Maruti More, 26, of Bijapur, Karnataka. Naik Shinde is survived by his wife and two children while gunner Sahdev was unmarried.
Sources said Naik Shinde had been part of a UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan in 2012. “He was called ‘Master’ by his colleagues for his instructional capabilities and exceptional firing skills,” they said. His elder brother is also in the army, they said. Gunner Sahdev was called “Maurya” for his indomitable spirit. He got engaged on November 15 and was to be married in a week. “He delayed the wedding to allow the bride to complete her education,” sources said.
Army’s Northern Command chief Lt Gen DS Hooda expressed condolences to their families.